Please note: These guidelines may be affected by the changes necessitated by COVID-19. Please check our FAQs for up-to-date information.
We believe that theatre is for everyone. Entry to the National Theatre building is free and everyone is welcome with or without a theatre ticket.
The building is open to the public all day, from Monday to Saturday. There are cafes, restaurants and bars where you can buy food and drink, a bookshop, and free things to enjoy, including exhibitions and the chance to see behind the scenes with the Sherling Backstage Walkway. There are also quieter areas throughout the building with free Wi-Fi.
All our staff are identifiable by their National Theatre passes and /or uniform. Any staff member is here to assist you with any query you may have.
To tell us about your experiences at the National Theatre, or to seek permission for any proposed activity as set out below, please email [email protected].
Whilst on our premises, please speak to any member of staff.
Families with children are welcome throughout the year and breastfeeding is allowed anywhere on site.
Most of our public spaces are fully accessible to pushchairs and wheelchair users.
We have free public toilets and baby changing facilities, as well as a family-friendly food and drink offer available.
Children under-12 must be accompanied by an adult.
Please note that under-18s are not permitted in The Understudy and its outside areas after 9pm.
Tables and Chairs
As a theatre, our performances will make some areas very busy at certain times. During these times, we politely ask that tables in these areas are made available for audiences arriving for performances and consuming food and drink from our premises.
From 1pm on days when we have a matinee, and from 6pm when we have an evening performance, tables and chairs are primarily for those who are attending those shows or having a meal that has been bought at the National Theatre.
We make announcements to give you advance warning of when this time is approaching, so if you are not attending a performance and you have not purchased food or drinks from the National Theatre, please ensure you have moved from tables and chairs by 1pm/6pm. If alternative spaces are available for you to use, our staff will be happy to assist you.
For the safety of all visitors, security may ask to search bags on arrival. If you decline the search, you cannot be admitted to the building.
The searches look for restricted items including objects that might be considered a risk to the safety and enjoyment of our visitors, or the use of which would contravene one of our policies.
Any restricted items will be removed at the bag-searching point, recorded and retained, then returned to the visitor on departure. If our staff find anything they consider to be illegal, they will confiscate it and contact the police.
Please keep your personal belongings with you at all times. Security will be called to deal with unattended items and they may be removed.
We request that, if possible, you do not bring large bags and items to the National Theatre, as enhanced security measures are currently in place.
If you are attending a performance, any bags larger than a standard handbag or small rucksack (30 x 30 x 15cm) must be left in the free cloakrooms prior to entering the auditorium. We can only store folding bikes in our cloakrooms.
Please note that the cloakrooms are only open for our performances. Cloakrooms will open 90 minutes before the start of performances for the Olivier and Lyttelton Theatres and 60 minutes before the start of performances for the Dorfman. We are unable to accommodate bags before these times.
In order to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone, we politely ask you not to:
- Smoke anywhere inside our building, restaurants, bars or auditoriums (including electronic cigarettes or other products that produce a vapour or smoke).
- Bring in or consume alcohol which has not been purchased from the National Theatre. This includes our outside spaces such as balconies and outside bars.
- Make excessive noise that might disturb others.
- Fundraise, demonstrate or distribute/display campaigning material, without prior written agreement. Items for use in fundraising, campaigns or demonstrations (such as posters and banners) may not be brought into the National Theatre.
- Conduct formally organised and/or publicly advertised events without prior written agreement.
- Ride bicycles, scooters or any other wheeled item (except mobility aids).
- Run in our public spaces.
- Sleep in our public spaces.
- Use furniture for anything other than its intended use or move it around the building, to ensure it stays clean and accessible for everyone.
- Sit on the floor or leave your belongings on the floors or spread across a large space where it may intrude on the space available to other visitors.
- Carry out organised dance or physical exercise in our indoor spaces.
- Bring animals into the main National Theatre building, with exception of Assistance Dogs (dogs are allowed at the Green Room Restaurant and The Understudy only).
- Leave rubbish around the building. There are recycling bins available throughout the National Theatre.
- Use extension leads and cables, as these can be a trip hazard.
- Use pigment (paint, oil, watercolour, nail varnish etc) for art projects or other activities, as they may cause damage to carpets, furniture and listed concrete.
If our staff think you may be causing unreasonable disturbance to other visitors, contravening one of our policies, or endangering yourself, others, or our property and spaces, they will ask you to stop for the safety and comfort of all visitors. Our security officers have the authority to escort customers from the premises if necessary.
We will not tolerate abuse, harassment or violence towards any visitor, contractor, cast or company member, or member of staff.
Please report anything suspicious or anyone acting suspiciously to a member of staff.
Visitors are permitted to use hand-held cameras within the National Theatre and on the outside spaces for private and non-commercial purposes, but must not:
- Use cameras in any areas where video or photography is restricted (this will always be clearly signed) and never inside the auditorium without prior written agreement.
- Take a recording or take a photograph of any person without the authorisation of that person.
Non-private or commercial use of cameras and /or recording devices, and the use of tripods or lighting, is only allowed by prior written approval.
Any filming and photography you wish to host at the National Theatre for commercial purposes must be arranged with a minimum of five working days’ notice. Please contact [email protected] or call 020 7452 3999.
Any students wishing to arrange photography on site may do so subject to permission. Students are allowed on site for up to one hour, with a crew size no larger than four people. If you wish to film on site, you will need to write in advance to [email protected] for approval with a minimum of five working days’ notice of your shoot date.
We will always let visitors know if filming or photography is taking place in the National Theatre during their visit. This will be clearly signposted.